Jacob Riis (1849–1914) was a Danish-born newspaper reporter who, through his writing and photographs, publicized the crisis in housing, education, crime, and poverty at the height of late-nineteenth-century European immigration to New York City. By using photographs to reveal the inhumane conditions of the poor, Riis initiated the tradition of social documentary photography. On the occasion of the centenary of his death, the Museum of the City of New York is bringing together the Jacob A. Riis Papers from the Library of Congress and the Jacob A. Riis Collection of Photographs from the museum’s holdings. Riis’s images are being shown in multiple formats—negatives, lantern slides, and wood engravings or halftones in books—to show how they were seen by his public.
This exhibition is on view at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC (April 14 – September 5, 2016); The Museum of the City of New York (October 14, 2015 – March 20, 2016); the Kunstforeningen Gammelstrand in Copenhagen, Denmark (October 1, 2016 – January 8, 2017); and the Ribe Kunstmuseum in Ribe, Denmark (January 21, 2017 – May 14, 2017).
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